Sportsmail reveals its Team Of The Season for 2021-22

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A season of ups and downs has come to a close with a dramatic final day sorting out the Premier League champions, fourth place and the bottom three.

Narrowing down a Team of the Season has been tough, with newly-crowned champions Manchester City and Liverpool so dominant compared to their rivals.

Chelsea showed early promise under Thomas Tuchel but faded, and the rest below that know they can not come close to the runaway top two.

But good and great seasons have been had right across the league.

West Ham thrived under David Moyes, Brentford impressed under Thomas Frank, Antonio Conte galvanized Tottenham’s season after the debacle under Nuno Espirito Santo and there are more.

Sportsmail has picked our Team of the Season XI for 2021-22, with a few surprises …

Manchester City celebrate with the Premier League trophy after beating Liverpool to top spot

Manchester City celebrate with the Premier League trophy after beating Liverpool to top spot

GOALKEEPER

Alisson – Liverpool

A straight toss up between the two men who shared the Premier League Golden Glove award – Alisson and Ederson.

The two Brazilians have elevated the level of what top clubs require from their goalkeepers now and their absences are often felt.

It’s Alisson who just shades it here though.

‘For me, he’s the best keeper in the world and he proved it again,’ team-mate Jordan Henderson told The Athletic after the FA Cup final in which Alisson saved Mason Mount’s decisive spot-kick.

‘It’s not only this season, ever since he came to the club he’s been incredible. That was a world-class save in the penalty shootout after a couple of very good ones in normal time. He makes such a big difference to this team. ‘

Best in the world? It’s really hard to argue against that.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson shows no signs of dropping off in form after a fine campaign

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson shows no signs of dropping off in form after a fine campaign

RIGHT BACK

Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

While Kyle Walker would have been a worthy winner at right back – he’s the better defender of the two – the attacking production of Trent Alexander-Arnold is all-worldly and cannot be ignored.

The 23-year-old is staunchly defended for criticisms against his positioning as a defender – Gary Neville himself said when picking his team of the season that Alexander-Arnold’s team-mate Andy Robertson is the ‘best full-back in the league by a mile ‘- but it is his delivery where there is no debate, he is one of the best in the business.

Alexander-Arnold has managed 12 assists in the league this season, second only to Mohamed Salah, who has 13.

England have a plethora of options at right back for the World Cup but with the quality level of service Alexander-Arnold can provide time and time again, he is sure to be a shoo-in to start in Qatar.

Two for two for Liverpool.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best attacking full-backs in the world given his crosses

Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best attacking full-backs in the world given his crosses

CENTER BACK

Antonio Rudiger – Chelsea

Now to look beyond the top two, save this being nothing more than a Manchester City and Liverpool combined XI.

Real Madrid-bound Antonio Rudiger represents a real loss for Chelsea and it is remarkable Frank Lampard turned his nose up at the German defender.

Back in the thick of it under Tuchel, Rudiger has had a fine campaign and has contributed three goals and two assists, too.

It remains a real headscratcher how Chelsea have allowed a situation to play out where he, a £ 70-80m-rated player, is walking out of the club for nothing come the summer.

Many may make cases for Joel Matip at Liverpool or Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte at Manchester City, but Chelsea would be much worse off had Rudiger been out.

Chelsea have failed to maintain a title bid but Antonio Rudiger has enjoyed a strong season

CENTER BACK

Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

This should be unanimous. Seriously.

Virgil van Dijk missed much of last season due to a catastrophic injury picked up in a Merseyside derby with Everton but back fighting fit it is no coincidence that Liverpool have been battling on all fronts.

The Dutchman just provides a serenity to those around him and a winning mentality that is infectious.

He has made 50 appearances this season and the stats could not be clearer.

In the Premier League, Liverpool conceded 26 goals, second-best in the division behind City, with him in the side. Last season, with him out of it, they leaked 42 and were never seen in contention for the biggest prizes.

Jurgen Klopp likes to play a high line and Van Dijk allows that tactic to run smoothly.

His value is absolutely immense.

There are very few words left to describe the impact Virgil van Dijk has on this Liverpool side

There are very few words left to describe the impact Virgil van Dijk has on this Liverpool side

LEFT BACK

Andy Robertson – Liverpool

Joao Cancelo makes a compelling argument but one full-back for your team and you are picking Andy Robertson.

Defending and attacking he is up there to be the best in class. Reece James at Chelsea has shown real quality at both ends but Robertson has developed into a world class talent under Klopp’s guidance.

‘He is eight or nine out of ten every week, the impetus he gives Liverpool in games where it is hurting, it is unbelievable,’ Neville told Monday Night Football when he ran through his own Team of the Season. ‘He does more than you ever notice.’

Cancelo has had a phenomenal year but give me Robertson once more for this line-up.

Since joining Liverpool in 2017 for £ 8m, his value has just gone up, and up, and up.

Gary Neville argued Andy Robertson is the best full-back in the league and it's hard to argue

Gary Neville argued Andy Robertson is the best full-back in the league and it’s hard to argue

LEFT CENTER MIDFIELD

Kevin De Bruyne – Man City

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Player of the Season in many people’s eyes. Ours too.

Of all the players in the Premier League, De Bruyne is right there as one of the most breathtaking talents to see live.

Park his four-goal virtuoso at Wolves for a second, De Bruyne has team-mates in awe at his quality and is the standard-bearer for a side that sets stupidly high standards under Pep Guardiola.

‘Unstoppable, brilliant, awesome, outstanding, perfect,’ Guardiola said after that Wolves game.

‘Kevin always had the ability to create the special things. Always we push him to say he is an incredible player, generous with assists, but he has to score goals and this season is the most prolific he has since since we are together. ‘

He will easily go down as one of City’s all-time greats, especially after setting up Ilkay Gundogan’s title-winning goal on Sunday.

Kevin De Bruyne has once again produced a befitting season of a league Player of the Year

CENTER DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD

Rodri – Man City

Now, given he hasn’t made City’s Player of the Season shortlist, arguments will be made to have Declan Rice or others anchoring this Team of the Season.

But there is a case to be made that he has been City’s most important piece of the puzzle as the screener in front of the back four.

Rodri and Liverpool’s Fabinho are the best in the business in that deep-lying role but the Spaniard just edges it here.

He makes everything look so easy and has even shown an appetite to add goals to his game – as Aston Villa discovered on Sunday at the Etihad.

Important because he allows those around him to do what they do best – attack.

Not one to grab all the headlines but Rodri remains a vital piece of Man City's midfield jigsaw

Not one to grab all the headlines but Rodri remains a vital piece of Man City’s midfield jigsaw

RIGHT CENTER MIDFIELD

Jarrod Bowen – West Ham

Double digits for league goals and assists means he more than deserves a place in this side.

Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva has a strong case himself but we’ve gone with Bowen.

It was no surprise when Sportsmail revealed that West Ham are plotting a double-your-money new contract for the former Hull City man, taking him to £ 120,000 a week.

There’s even been talk of him pushing into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup later this year.

Bowen has taken major strides forward as a scorer and facilitator this season and the traditional Big Six are no doubt all watching intently.

Double digits in league goals and assists makes Jarrod Bowen a worthy addition to this side

Double digits in league goals and assists makes Jarrod Bowen a worthy addition to this side

RIGHT WING

Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

There’s no dispute here, surely?

One of the few players who can make a realistic argument that he is the best in the world, Salah is one of the first names on this team-sheet.

Always in Golden Boot contention, always frightening the life out of defenders, and always running, the only question mark around the Egyptian is will he sign a new contract to stay at Liverpool?

Combined 36 Premier League goal contributions this season – goals and assists.

Just a phenomenal player and like De Bruyne, one of the all-time greats.

Mohamed Salah (left) is continuing to do his talking on the pitch amid his contract dispute

Mohamed Salah (left) is continuing to do his talking on the pitch amid his contract dispute

STRIKER

Harry Kane – Tottenham

With just one goal in his first 15 Premier League games this season, you did wonder how much missing out on a move to Manchester City was affecting him.

But since the arrival of Antonio Conte, who replaced Nuno Espirito Santo mid-season, Kane has been back to his best.

He has talked up the influence of working under the fiery Italian coach and has even given a nod to his own future by talking up next season together.

Along with Son Heung-min they can make a credible case as the best one-two punch in English football.

Two goals in a 3-2 win away at Manchester City stand out among his season’s highlights reel.

Started the season poorly but since Antonio Conte arrived he has looked like a man reborn

Started the season poorly but since Antonio Conte arrived he has looked like a man reborn

LEFT WING

Son Heung-min – Tottenham

Purely typing his name into Google, one of the first suggested questions is, is Son Heung-min a Tottenham legend?

It’s a tad premature for that kind of language but the South Korean is a superstar – not even in the making, he’s right now a world class talent.

Given he does not take penalties, to have shared the Golden Boot with Salah after a brace at Norwich on the final day is a remarkable achievement.

Gary Neville believes Son walks into any team in the world, he’s just that good.

And it is hard to argue with that. He runs tirelessly, is unselfish but also knows when to put his foot through it and can be a scoring machine as well.

A top three Player of the Season contender alongside Salah and De Bruyne.

Son Heung-min is so good there isn't a Champions League team that would not take him

Son Heung-min is so good there isn’t a Champions League team that would not take him

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Reece James (Chelsea), Ederson (Manchester City), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton ), Conor Coady (Wolves).

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